Echono is a through-bred public servant, says Wogu
14 March 2023 | 2:56 am
The Director in the office of the Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Arc. Uchendu I. Wogu, has described his boss, Arc. Sonny Echono, who he has worked closely with in the last one year, as a very through-bred public servant...
The Director in the office of the Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Arc. Uchendu I. Wogu, has described his boss, Arc. Sonny Echono, who he has worked closely with in the last one year, as a very through-bred public servant; highly experienced, well exposed and grounded in the public service system of the country.
According to Wogu, these traits have made Echono’s impact felt in the Fund as soon as he assumed office. He said: “I am a very poor judge in that wise but I can tell you immediately that Arc Echono is a very through-bred public servant; highly experienced, well exposed and grounded in the public service system of the country, and his impact was immediately felt upon his arrival here with the pace he adopted to carry out his idea and his vision for the Fund.
“He brought to bear his many years of experience, having worked in several agencies of government and having also pioneered a good number of innovative approaches to governance in the country which he has instilled gradually. In fact, he is like a patient on a drip, he brought that elixir that fires up the Fund in a fast pace of achievements that we have recorded so far.
“He is a very down- to-earth person, he does not have any airs as some people carry these things on their shoulders as if the whole world rests on their shoulders. He is a very, very down-to-earth person. He is natural, easy to work with. He is about the easiest Executive Secretary that I have worked with since I joined this organization.
Speaking on some of his glaring impacts of Echono since his appointment, Wogu stated that the impacts of his administration are measurable at the beneficiary institutions’ level, which are the Fund’s first customers.
“So, the pace at which funds are disbursed rapidly improved and projects completion became more of a routine thing and then, resolution of issues became seamless and at the beneficiary level, a lot of the heads of institutions began to understand what the Fund really aims at achieving with the intervention programmes we have been running.
“He set out from the onset to make it easy for our benefiting instituations to have access to their intervention funds. Also, staff welfare and other issues that have to do with attitude to work, response time and responsibility, he laid emphasis on staff service delivery. A lot of staff now understand what it means to be at work, not that we never knew it before but now, it is in our consciousness; it is on our face; there is a lot of self-check. People are checked on duty often and those are some of the innovations that he came with. So, right from his arrival, he came with a mandate to improve the pace of work and attitude to work skyrocketed.
Although the ES is an architect, Wogu attributed the issue of timely completion of projects, cost efficiency and quality delivery largely to the wide experience he has acquired in the public service.
He said: “I will rather say that his wide experience in public service is what is bearing down on us, not that it is injurious but rather, it is of good effect. That is, the totality of the measure of his impacts can be attributed to his wide experience.
“Despite being an architect, he is also a pioneer procurement specialist. He was one of the first Nigerians that developed the public procurement system in Nigeria, and he has also served in various fields of endeavor – agriculture, education, telecommunications.
“So, with this wealth of exposure and experience, the impact became obvious, not just because he is an architect. Well, being an architect can have influence because I am also an architect and we often say that architects do things in style. So, he has also brought that to bear on the way we structure our programmes and then, extending it to the benefiting institutions.
“A lot of the success stories that we have recorded so far actually commenced before he came, a good number also started with his arrival but the good thing is that every single project, every single programme is taken on its own merit, on its own cost and then, the monitoring process has been gingered so that everyone is on their toes.
“Nobody is delaying a project because they think it can just wait. We are constantly in a dialogue with our benefiting institutions and we keep on issuing information to them to enable them pursue the delivery of these projects more diligently and across all projects and not just physical infrastructure because the one that is visible to everybody is the large structures that have TETFund logo written all over.”
Wogu stated that more significant was the human capacity development, called, TETFund Scholarship for Academic Staff.
According to him, this aspect of the intervention is humongous with figures that are huge. He added that so far, the Fund has sponsored more than 30,000 academics, all over the world and at home to acquire their Master degree, Ph.D as well as Post-Doctoral programmes.
“Those of them who are doing research, we sponsor them to do bench work abroad where they are exposed to the state of-the-art laboratories and processes in more established universities across the world.
“So, his approach has helped us to clean up a lot of the difficult corners that we have been struggling with over time, especially with the process of managing the scholars, particularly in this time of difficulty in getting foreign exchange. So, he has brought a good number of innovative ideas, ground-breaking processes and ease in the way we do our interventions and in the day to day work.
Speaking on Echono’s passion to boost research in tertiary institutions, Wogu said he shocked shades of opinions who felt that since he was not necessarily from the academia, research funding may suffer.
“In fact, when he arrived TETFund, being somebody that is not necessarily from the academia, some people or a good measure of opinion holders felt that not coming the academia, he may not be able to follow through. But he has shown them that being versatile is the key.
“He is a very versatile administrator. What the Fund needs is a person of his caliber – someone that has that kind of attitude and competence to deliver on all the requirements of the mandate.
“So, driving the research mandate, he invigorated the entire process and got the research management committee that the Fund has set up earlier back to work and get them to know that the delivery, the completion of the research project is a priority and he has been able to pass that message.
“He has also created great opportunities; he has lashed on to all of the openings and opportunities that came to him and to the Fund to see that the exposure of our researchers is more indepth and focused, not just for the same of anything or doing things just for the sake of doing them.
“So, he has been able to align with a lot of these interventions so that they are comprehensive, target-oriented and delivery specific so that you don’t just take money for research and you are not reporting.”
Adding: “The volume of correspondence in that particular area has also shown that the engagement with researchers is yielding the kind fruits we have been clamouring for. We are not getting more completion reports. Before he came, completion rate was a bit sluggish but now, more researchers are reporting completion of their research projects.
“He has also created other for a, opportunities for exposition of these research works. He has gone ahead to sign different Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) with multi-national agencies and organizations and created platform for our researchers to showcase their works, and announced to the public, what they are doing.
“One of these is being hosted by an agency along Airport Road called Innova8. It is an innovation hub that has partnered with the Fund and it was one of the first things he did – to create that platform for Nigerians academicians who are involved in ground-breaking research to find a platform where they would be able to showcase their research findings, and interface with potential investors. It was a meeting of the town and the gown. People talk about it but here, we practicalise it.
“So, he has driven that agenda and he is pursing it with all the enthusiasms that it required. So, the research interventions have actually moved to another pedestal. We are now graduating into innovation because it does not just finish with research, the researchers produce innovative products that solve verifiable society challenges. So, that is where we are now and he is driving that agenda seriously”, Wogu said.